A large Roman Redware Dish, Late Imperial Period, ca. 4th century CE
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This large redware dish is an excellent example of African Red Slipware (ARS) produced during the Roman Late Imperial Period. This example is typical of the type, with its slight sheen to the orange-red burnished slip. It stands on a raised ring base, has shallow sloping sides and an everted rim, and is decorated with a thin double band encircling the rim and another around the tondo.
Background: African Red Slip was the final development of terra sigillata. It was heavily influenced by the earlier Arretine ware from Italy and Samain ware from Gaul, but was by far the most successful and popular type, flourishing for almost five hundred years. Produced in the North African provinces of Africa Proconsularis, Byzacena, and Numidia in modern-day Tunisia, it gained popularity throughout the empire in the third century, overtaking the previous two types. Characterized by a thick orange-red slip over granular fabric, and decorated either plainly with simple grooves as seen here, or later, more elaborately with either applique reliefs or stamped motifs of palm leaves, animals, humans, mythological scenes, and eventually Christian symbols.
Ref: Charleston, R.J., Roman Pottery, London: Faber and Faber (1955), pp. 21 - 23, pl. 23B.
Dimensions: Diameter: 12 inches (30.5 cm), Height: 1 1/2 inches (3.8 cm)
Condition: A minor chip to the rim, and minor expected surface wear, overall intact and in very good condition.
Provenance: Private European collection, acquired October 31, 1970. With old sticker on the base reading '31.10.70 / Ain Mdeker.' Ain Mdeker is a spring in Tunisia.